Telling the difference between sheng and shu when both have been stored Hong Kong style?

Puerh and other heicha
User avatar
mbanu
Posts: 513
Joined: Fri May 03, 2019 3:45 pm

Sun Feb 02, 2020 3:31 pm

I've had some Hong Kong storage pu'er that was labeled sheng, but that brews as dark as shu. I know that this isn't unusual for this style, since shu was invented to imitate Hong Kong style storage. Telling apart HK-style vs. dry-stored shu seems easier for me I think because of the difference in smell, but what is a good way to tell the difference between sheng and shu when both have gone through a wet storage period?
User avatar
Stephen
Posts: 220
Joined: Thu Oct 12, 2017 9:26 pm
Location: Bay Area, California

Sun Feb 02, 2020 8:56 pm

In my experience the sheng will have more bitterness and complexity compared to the shu. The shu will be smoother and probably feel thicker in the mouth. There may likely be some differences in the aromas/xiang. The spent leaves of the sheng will likely show some green, especially if you dump them out and let them soak in tepid or cool water.
User avatar
beachape
Posts: 31
Joined: Thu Dec 14, 2017 1:06 pm
Location: Pennsylvania

Tue Apr 28, 2020 8:35 pm

MarshalN has commented on this in his blog which is a great read. I agree that looking at the spent leaves is a great way to differentiate. Shu leaves tend to look dark/black and retain their compressed shape after brewing. They will break apart when you try to flatten the used leaves. Sheng leaves will look more reddish/brown/green even if humidly aged and will be more pliable after brewing so you can usually flatten out a whole leaf. Occasionally you will find both in your cup because they have mixed sheng and shu together which seems to be a more common thing in Hong Kong.
.m.
Posts: 552
Joined: Wed Oct 11, 2017 3:26 pm
Location: Zagreb
Contact:

Wed Apr 29, 2020 8:54 am

From my limited experience, sheng normally doesn't go throu a shu phase. Instead, a wet stored sheng tends to go through beety geosmin phase to a sort of mineral taste. So telling wet stored sheng from dry stored shu should be usually quite clear, as you said. When both are wet stored it's a whole different question, especially since the shu could be lightly fermented. Or it could be be a non-puerh material, such as Guang Yun Gong or Liu Bao, and of various degree of fermentation. In this case looking at spent leaves may not be enough.
User avatar
StoneLadle
Posts: 331
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2020 12:19 am
Location: Malaysia

Wed Aug 12, 2020 4:13 am

Naturally aged raw PE is what cooked PE is trying to emulate. And that means a flavor profile akin to HKG stored raw PE, the very beast that launched PE to stardom in the first place.

Cooked PE will never fully stand up to an aged raw tea but it offered close to immediate drink-ability with some well thought out steps carried out to ensure that was the case. Connoisseur-ship began only recently, but cooked PE always had a place in dim sum parlors and restaurants, and yes quality also varied, otherwise we wouldn't be so enamored with 7581 bricks from the 90s, this wonderful hybrid cooked, half-cooked, old raw leaf conundrum of a cake.

Shu will always have the 'chong' aroma somewhere in its profile, whereas aged Sheng (at least 15 years onwards) will either start to show it due to storage conditions, or emulate it in terms of 'dustiness' and 'incense' notes. Most notably for me though, it's in the taste.

Aged shu say, should be smooth, mellow, with almost flat taste profile, nothing wild , or one could say not too wide in dynamic range, and the broth should be silky and thick, yet still clear with deep colour. You don't want to spill it on yourself. Sheng carrying age should do all of the above yet still dance on the palates, offering hints of high notes and traces of residual bitterness but the older it gets, the mellowness should increase. The Sheng should be more complex than the Shu, and start to remind you of how it once was, this is so when you pass the peak of the steeps and the session goes into 'decline'.... Shu just goes dead... sweet, but dead...

..and yea, the leaves, don't forget the leaves
Chadrinkincat
Posts: 738
Joined: Mon Dec 04, 2017 8:16 pm
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Contact:

Thu Aug 13, 2020 6:47 pm

@StoneLadle

“Naturally aged raw PE is what cooked PE is trying to emulate”

Where did you hear this? Natural storage sheng was not a thing in the 1970’s.
User avatar
StoneLadle
Posts: 331
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2020 12:19 am
Location: Malaysia

Fri Aug 14, 2020 12:33 am

Chadrinkincat wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 6:47 pm
StoneLadle

“Naturally aged raw PE is what cooked PE is trying to emulate”

Where did you hear this? Natural storage sheng was not a thing in the 1970’s.
My grandfather and his brother both said the same thing.

My father also said the same thing.

The tea teacher guy at Ying Kee in HKG said the same thing.

My grand uncle also said the same thing, he drank both stored Sheng and quite an amount of Shu with every meal and he lived a long time.
User avatar
Balthazar
Posts: 426
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2018 7:04 am
Location: Oslo, Norway

Fri Aug 14, 2020 1:45 am

I don't think it's a very controversial statement, if we agree that (HK) "natural storage" is the same as "wet storage"/"traditional storage". If not, we should clarify what we mean by these terms...
Cooked Puer(shoucha 熟茶)is produced through a process called wodui 渥堆, a type of fermentation developed in Guangzhou in the 1950s and transferred to Yunnan in the mid-1970s. As part of this process, workers create piles of the tea leaves, sprinkle them with water, and cover them with plastic. The combination of moisture, high temperature, and microorganisms facilitates fermentation. Wodui is considered a “post-fermentation”(houfaxiao 後發酵)technique because water is added to tea leaves that have already been processed and are therefore marketable as a finished product. Since the leaves reach a high temperature during post-fermentation, wodui tea is called cooked tea to distinguish it from the original Puer tea, which is now referred to as shengcha(生茶 raw tea). The purpose of developing the wodui technique was to transform the flavor of Puer from strong and astringent to soft and smooth, similar to that produced by the wet storage process but at an industrial scale and so involving great profits. Wodui made Puer tea more acceptable to consumers in Hong Kong and Guangdong especially, and from the mid-1970s on, a large portion of Puer tea was made in the cooked style. In fact the wodui method is not actually new: Guangxi’s Liubao tea and Hunan’s Qianliang tea, two famous heicha(黑茶 dark tea)types, have long used similar methods.
(From "The Authentic Taste of Puer Tea and Transnational Interests", p. 96, my emphasis)

A similar story (although less explicit about the HK natural storage associsation) is made in "Puer Tea: Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic" if memory serves, will have to check later.

I'd certainly be interested to hear if anyone has a different explanation. I heard there was a Instagram discussion about this recently, but as I'm not on that platform I don't know what the counterpoints are. If I have time later I'll try to dig around a bit in Chinese sources.
User avatar
pantry
Posts: 388
Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2019 10:34 am
Location: California

Fri Aug 14, 2020 1:54 am

Balthazar wrote:
Fri Aug 14, 2020 1:45 am

I'd certainly be interested to hear if anyone has a different explanation. I heard there was a Instagram discussion about this recently, but as I'm not on that platform I don't know what the counterpoints are. If I have time later I'll try to dig around a bit in Chinese sources.
Ah, yes, I saw those tea drunk recent posts as well. Haven’t read them myself yet, as I’ve been quite busy these days. Pasting the links here for people outside of the IG platform to read.





User avatar
StoneLadle
Posts: 331
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2020 12:19 am
Location: Malaysia

Fri Aug 14, 2020 2:12 am

pantry wrote:
Fri Aug 14, 2020 1:54 am
Balthazar wrote:
Fri Aug 14, 2020 1:45 am

I'd certainly be interested to hear if anyone has a different explanation. I heard there was a Instagram discussion about this recently, but as I'm not on that platform I don't know what the counterpoints are. If I have time later I'll try to dig around a bit in Chinese sources.
Ah, yes, I saw those tea drunk recent posts as well. Haven’t read them myself yet, as I’ve been quite busy these days. Pasting the links here for people outside of the IG platform to read.








sounds like he's really drunk.. whoever they are
User avatar
StoneLadle
Posts: 331
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2020 12:19 am
Location: Malaysia

Fri Aug 14, 2020 2:21 am

Balthazar wrote:
Fri Aug 14, 2020 1:45 am


(From "The Authentic Taste of Puer Tea and Transnational Interests", p. 96, my emphasis)

A similar story (although less explicit about the HK natural storage associsation) is made in "Puer Tea: Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic" if memory serves, will have to check later.

I'd certainly be interested to hear if anyone has a different explanation. I heard there was a Instagram discussion about this recently, but as I'm not on that platform I don't know what the counterpoints are. If I have time later I'll try to dig around a bit in Chinese sources.
Sensational stuff, it's got footnotes and everything. Not just some IG profile which looks suspiciously like CCP propaganda...
User avatar
StoneLadle
Posts: 331
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2020 12:19 am
Location: Malaysia

Fri Aug 14, 2020 2:32 am

@Balthazar you've made my day man. A million thanks indeed!!
Chadrinkincat
Posts: 738
Joined: Mon Dec 04, 2017 8:16 pm
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Contact:

Fri Aug 14, 2020 12:59 pm

@Balthazar

Natural storage is the not the same thing as traditional HK storage

Tradional HK storage (wet)

https://www.tealifehk.com/products/2004 ... p-7542-50g

Natural (dry)

https://www.tealifehk.com/products/2006 ... -7532-100g
DailyTX
Posts: 511
Joined: Wed Jul 03, 2019 4:43 pm
Location: Northern California

Fri Aug 14, 2020 1:27 pm

Not to add to this confusion, it seems like a good education moment for me. I thought pu erh stored in HK is consider wet storage/HK storage. After the 88 Ching Bing became popular, people started to store tea in Guangdong which is dry storage (dryer than HK). People usually purchase large quantity of pu erh and put them in a warehouse both in HK and in Guangdong, and let it be until you have buyers. So people call both natural storage based on location. Temperature and humidity were not tightly controlled prior to the pu erh tea bloom in early 2000. Any pu erh vendors can chime in on pu erh history?
User avatar
pantry
Posts: 388
Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2019 10:34 am
Location: California

Fri Aug 14, 2020 2:02 pm

Honestly from what I'm reading everybody pretty much was trying to say the same thing but framed it differently.

- Shu pu was invented in the 70s, to feed the growing demand of wet storage puerh served with dim sum restaurants in HK
- This is why some people say shu pu tries to emulate naturally aged sheng pu (in wet condition)
- Dry storage wasn't a thing until after Vesper Chan made it a thing. He started his business in the late 80s.
- Because of that, people had to come up with a way to distinguish these two ways of storing sheng
- Some people now use the term "naturally stored" to refer to dry storage exclusively
- There exist dry storage sheng pu that had been kept from way back then, even before the 70s.
- There might have been some confusion along the way. Some people may have thought that those old sheng pu stored in dry condition would eventually turn into something like shu
- Tea Drunk was trying to correct that confusion

In the end, I think everybody is saying the same thing :lol:
Last edited by pantry on Fri Aug 14, 2020 2:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Post Reply